The 28,000 sf red brick Victorian Gothic-style church, completed in 1886 is a major landmark of African American heritage and one of the most important religious institutions in the United States. Walled in by development, the historic church suffered numerous structural cracks from vibrations during adjacent construction. Water infiltration caused extensive damage and a poorly designed internal gutter system caused water damage to walls and ceiling. The stained-glass windows lead jointing had deteriorated. The building’s original exterior metalwork had rusted, and there was evidence of settlement of the church’s grand staircase and sanctuary floors. And finally, when portions of the sanctuary’s tin ceiling fell, the church was forced to halt services for safety reasons.
Gilford was asked to evaluate the various issues, and working within an allocated budget, to devise a phased renovation approach for life safety, building envelope, infrastructure, and architectural restoration to address emergency repairs and preserve historic site features. All work was required to take place in an occupied environment with minimal disruption to operations.
Life Safety: Encompassed replacement of the sanctuary ceiling; mechanical, electrical, and plumbing renovations; installation of new fire sprinkler and fire alarm systems where none previously existed, and upgrade of other fire protection to current code.
Building Envelope: The most critical element was to make the building watertight to stop further deterioration. Gilford replaced the open trough roof drains, repaired/replaced gutters, downspouts, and flashing; exterior masonry was repaired and re-pointed and a waterproofing material was applied to the exterior of the brick. Metal-clad steeples were restored in place and the entire roof was re-caulked. A water test on the entire roof was performed to determine that there was no further water infiltration into the building.
Infrastructure: The building’s entire electrical system was renovated including provisions for new electrical power service. Gas and water utilities and existing mechanical and plumbing systems were renovated.
Architectural Restoration included lead-based paint abatement; restoration of plaster walls, finishes, interior doors/windows, historic stained-glass windows, and a termite damaged floor. New handicap accessible restrooms were constructed.